So catch up time then guys. Sorry for the delay. Really want to get some pictures up but all the nternet places in Cambodia are rubbish so you're just going to have to wait im afraid.
Our journey to Siem Reap from Koh Chang took approximately 12 hours and the events on the way were somewhat unpleasant at times.
We got in the minibus in Koh Chang with no problem (it was about half an hour late but weve cme to expect that!) and the journey to the mainland and as far as Arranya Prathet (which is the small town the border crossing is in) was pretty smooth and uneventful. Then the fun began. We stopped outside a restaurant and was told to go in and wait for another bus. There was only myself and dave and another couple Jakob (austrian) and Isobelle (swiss) that had been dropped off here. In the restaurant the owners gave us menus and told us to eat there, we ordered a drink only. At this point we were feeling a little uneasy with the situation, knowing that the intention was to get as much money out of as possible. Next came out the visa cards to fill in which like good little soldiers we did (but we had been determined to do it ourselves at the border). We had read in the lonely planet book that it would cost 1000thb/person at the border but these guys were charging 1200thb which is an extra four pound per person.Feeling like they would probably refuse to take us to the border and with our 'L' plates still firmly attached we paid. Then out comes a shiny leaflet with a suggested hotel to stay called the Green Banana. They offered a swimming pool, free bicycle hire, free tour guide around the temples etc, etc and on the back a large 'tripadvisor' logo which makes it all look very legitimate. With alarm bells still ringing loudly in our ears but knowing that it would be late when we arrived, we booked just one night even though they said the minimum was two. Wew were then bundled in a minibus and taken to the border, getting through passport control to get out of Thailand was easy. The next part of the scam was a long spiel from our driver who told us that in Cambodia it is only riel that is used and there wan't many ATM's around so to get thai baht out of the ATM at the border and then exchange it for riel at the bus station, again, believing every word we did all as they planned but we only exchanged a small amount, fortunatel! The exchange rate was ok, i think but the commission was pretty high so we would have lost a lot of money if we had changed as much as they said. When we finally arrived in Siem Reap we were told that a lot of the city was flooded so when we got off the bus the taxi driver said he would take us to a different hotel. This was called 'No Problem'and was actually quite nice. Straight away though the taxi driver followed us up to our room and was asking us about seeing the temples the next day. The answer was no, i just wanted some space and a day of getting over the journey we had just had.
We still got up pretty early the next day. Still feeling bitter from the previous days events, we set out to have a walk round the city. We didn't want a tuk-tuk driver or a moto driver or anyone for that matter to take us anywhere cos we didn't want to be conned out of anymore money. The streets just passed our hotel were flooded and when i say flooded it was up to our knees in most places. Our choices were to stay at the hotel all day, pay someone to take us round (which were definately NOT going to do) or grin and bare it and trudge the streets like everyone else. So that's what we did. The water was warm and most of the paths are nice and even so the only difficulty was finding the kerb when needing to cross the road. Oh and for dave to keep his flip flops on his feet!!!! There is a river running through the city, which is what bursts it's banks each year and causes the flooding, so there are quite a few bridges around. Kids of all ages, were using the bridges to jump off into the river and absolutely loving it!!!!
Then it started raining again so we ducked into a bar/restaurant for some lunch. Dave had Tonle Sap fish soup which didn't really taste of much and i had Khmer curry with shrimps and rice, which was nice.
There's not much to do on a night, especially when it's flooded, so we just spent the night in the bar with John (the welsh owner of the bar), Offer (an israeli, off the wall kinda guy, who was trying his best to play the cambodian violin. But really wasn't very good) and David (a Finnish guy who was very nice but quite quiet).
The next three days were spent exploring the famous temples of Angkor and it's surrounding areas and visiting the floating villages that survive along the Tonle Sap river. I will explain more in the pictures when i can finally get them up.
Phnom Penh (the capital) was our next port of call for three days and nights. We travelled to Phnom Penh on a night bus which was definately an experience. Dave was very nervous at the beginning, but he had been told people had been robbed whilst they were asleep on these kinds of buses, so that didn't help. The ride was very bumpy and there wasn't much sleep to be had, but we didn't do too bad. There was one official stop, at a restaurant, on the 7 hour journey, which was at 3o'clock in the morning! I got off first for a comfort break and as i returned a man at the restaurant was saying 'ýou eat, you eat''. I just carried on walking back to the bus and ignored him. all i wanted to say was 'it's 3 in the morning, i have just woken up and you're offering NOODLES', not exactly appetising at that time.
After the trauma of Siem Reap we were determined not to be scammed again so when the tuk-tuk and moto drivers came running to the bus to get your business we were ready for them. Keeping calm is the best way, but sometimes it really takes you all your time not to shout. I got off the bus first and was followed by a driver, dave, close behind, was followed by another, but we got our bags and walked away! Thunbs up, high five and all that. We were proud of ourselves! We had an idea where we were going and it was onlya short distance to walk but when we arrived it was far more expensive than quoted on the internet so we kept moving until we found an internet cafe. There we looked up hotels and then dave went and had a look and got some quotes and after the third or fourth attempt found the Royal guesthouse which was nice and in a good location, there was about 100 stairs to climb before we reached our room but we could do with the exercise so that's fine!
Saturday was a hard day. we visited the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng museum (which is the school. come main prison used as a holding before prisoners were taken to the Killing Fields, during the Khmer Rouge control).
At the prison there are hundreds of photographs of the victims which were used so if anyone escaped (which they invariably didn't) they could be found and it also served as a log for the Khmer Rouge. There are also the original beds and cloths that prisoers laid on (those who were intelligent etc were tortured to give information) which are stained with blood and some of the classrooms were divided into 20-25 individual holding cells that were extremely small. A lot died of starvation and disease before they could be murdered. I think that that might have been a saving grace! Pol Pot was the leader of the Khmer Rouge and others that worked with him were as bad, if not worse than him. Just to give you a little idea of his mentality, he killed members of his own family as he thought they posed a threat to his beliefs. At the Killing Fields there are 129 mass graves of which only 85 have been evacuated and almost 9000 skulls found. A lot of the skulls are displayed in a glass stupa as you walk into the field. A lot of the graves had a mixture of men and women in but two of the others were the ones that really stand out. One which had 129 headless/skulless bodies in (these are the bodies of soldiers who betrayed or were thought to have betrayed the Khmer Rouge. This is known because they all had uniforms of soldiers on) and the other which had mothers nd their babies/small children in. Their slogan for this basically states that if you don't rid of the children now, they will seek revenge when they are older. Not going to depress you anymore. promise.
As we left the killing fields and returned to our tuk-tuk, the driver asked us if we wnated to go to the shooting range before he took us to the museum. Like dave said, 'they're just not on the same wave length, anything because it will get them an extra dollar'.
On sunday we just had a chill out day really. We went to the shopping mall then just walked down the riverside again, (which is very nice and very relaxing), had some lunch in an english run bar called the rising sun (which do the most enormous burgers ever) then headed to a bar to watch the rugby.
Not much else to say about Phnom Penh. We did really like it here though and it has made Cambodia seem like a nice country again so we are looking forward to having a few days at the coastal town os Sihanoukville.